Thursday, February 28, 2013

Center Stage February 2013 Character Spotlight

Center Stage is a monthly feature hosted by Ginger-Read Reviews, in which we highlight a character from the books we've read in the past month. I was so excited to see that Ali had started this feature because I love raving (and sometimes ranting) about literary characters! And now I have a legitimate excuse to do so!

February 2013 Center Stage Character:
Adrian Ivashkov from The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

Richelle Mead's The Indigo Spell was one of my most anticipated reads of this year, due in large part to Mr. Adrian Ivashkov. I confess to not immediately falling for his charms way back when he made his first appearance in the second Vampire Academy book, Frostbite. But Adrian is a persistent fellow, and it wasn't long until I was swooning over him, too.

I love Adrian for his endless supply of snarky comments and how he lives in the moment. Yes, he possesses a pretty healthy ego, but underneath the swagger is a kind, generous heart. Adrian will do anything for the people he cares about.

My favorite thing about Adrian, though, is his sense of humor. You seriously never know what he's going to say next. Whether he's telling everyone that his name is Jet Steele or inventing a fake fraternity called Alpha Yam Ergo, Adrian is unpredictably hilarious. Each time I being reading a new Bloodlines novel, I can't wait to see how many times he'll make me laugh. I think this quote from Sydney from Chapter 3 of The Indigo Spell sums up Adrian perfectly:

"We looked up and found Adrian standing above us, dashing in his shades of blue. His face was the picture of perfect politeness and restraint, meaning something disastrous was probably about to happen."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Review: Ten by Gretchen McNeil

By Gretchen McNeil
Balzer + Bray

To Sum It Up:

When best friends Meg and Minnie are invited to an exclusive party on Henry Island, they jump at the chance to go on the weekend getaway. Without telling anyone about their whereabouts, they reach the party, but the hostess is nowhere to be found. The raging storm outside is attributed as the cause. But the party must go on, and it does—until the partygoers start showing up dead. Meg realizes that they are getting picked off one by one, and she's figured out that one of them is the killer. With no way to send for help and no way off the secluded island, all the teenagers can do is survive until morning.


I was beside myself when I found Ten lurking in my mailbox. Eagerly, I sat down and started reading. The book started off okay, but several chapters in, I was rolling my eyes, snickering, and leaving the book unread and desolate on my nightstand. It took me an eternity to finish the book, and it took me even longer to review it. I wanted to like the book and be kind, but I just couldn't do it.

Ten, being a horror book, was lacking a great deal in the horror department. I read the book in solitude at night and I still wasn't scared. I could have been camping on an island while reading and still have been perfectly at ease. I'll admit that the book was kind of creepy, but that's about it. I was confused, though. For a book written under the genre to scare people, I was a little more than disappointed—my bravery knows no bounds.

Everything about the book was so typical it hurt. Several teenagers are stuck on an island with a psycho killer on the loose! Oh, but there's a twist—the killer is one of them! Been there, done that—several times, actually. I was quite bored with the triteness and predictability of the plot. I started counting how many times I rolled my eyes. This book bothered me so much because I really did want to like it! The odds were not in Ten's favor.

The characters in the book annoyed me to no end. You have Meg, with her co-dependent, depressed bestie, Minnie, and her angsty ex-boyfriend, T.J. That's about all of the characters I can remember. There were more than several secondary characters, but I gave up on remembering them, seeing as most of them died. The book was cluttered with names, and, I'm sorry, but it's terrible that a character's sole purpose is to kick it. I tried to like Meg, I really did, but she was just so annoying. She kept trying to please her friend Minnie, who I have come to resent, and barely tried to figure out what was going on. I'll admit that Meg and T.J. were the most sensible of the characters, but their “I like you, but I hate you” relationship distracted me from rooting them on to survive. The baddie, who isn't revealed until the very end, is the most interesting out of the lot.

I will admit that the ending caught me off guard—just by the slightest. That's what saved the book for me. I had everything fairly figured out; the little twist, however, sent me back to the drawing board. I found my balance quite quickly after the bump, but the bump was enough to make me rethink the book. Yeah, most of my time was spent yelling at Meg to open her eyes and dig a little deeper, but at least I was involved in the book. Unbeknownst to me, I was all caught up in the action, and that's all anybody can ask for in a book—an escape.

All in All:

I was sorely disappointed with this book. Although the horror just wasn't there for me, I do encourage others to try it out for themselves.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines #3)
By Richelle Mead

To Sum It Up:

All her life, Sydney Sage has been taught to never question the Alchemists’ teachings, but recent events have her doing just that. She sets out in search of the mysterious Marcus Finch, a former Alchemist who’s gone rogue. In tracking him down, Sydney hopes to discover what the Alchemists are really up to because she strongly suspects that they’re withholding important information from her. Meanwhile, Sydney also finds herself involved in another search of a different kind. Someone is targeting young women who haven’t tapped into their magical abilities yet and draining both their youth and their powers. As much as Sydney wants to help find the culprit, it means using her own magic, yet another thing that goes against everything she believes in as an Alchemist. Sydney realizes that she has reached a crossroads in her life, and she must decide whether to continue on the Alchemists’ path or to part ways with them once and for all.


The previous Bloodlines novel, The Golden Lily, saw straitlaced, logical Alchemist Sydney Sage allowing her heart to have more say in her decisions. In The Indigo Spell, Sydney, fed up with the Alchemists’ subterfuge, ditches blind loyalty and is determined to uncover what secrets the organization she’s dedicated her life to is hiding. The new, rebellious Sydney even gets busted for breaking curfew!

I’ve liked Sydney as a protagonist since the first Bloodlines book, but rebel Sydney is definitely my favorite so far. Richelle Mead has done such a great job with Sydney’s character progression, having her grow into someone who now questions authority and puts those she cares about before duty, all while retaining the qualities that make Sydney, well . . . Sydney. She’s still very uncomfortable with using the magical powers she didn’t even know she possessed until recently. They stand in complete opposition to Alchemist beliefs. The thought of what would happen if the Alchemists found out about her magic use weighs heavily on Sydney’s mind, as does her muddle of feelings towards one Adrian Ivashkov. If dabbling in magic is a big Alchemist no-no, then a potential Alchemist/vampire romance is a super big no-no. But realizing that the Alchemists may not be the models of integrity they portray themselves as really pushes Sydney to a breaking point. Her choices, like helping her history teacher, Ms. Terwilliger, stop the witch who’s stealing others’ powers, may flout Alchemist rules, but they stem from good intentions. The Alchemists, on the other hand, claim to be acting in the name of good, but Sydney’s faith in them has been shaken, perhaps permanently.

A huge factor in Sydney’s changing perspective on life has, of course, been Adrian. His impulsiveness and carpe diem outlook have been good for her, and her determination and focus have been a good influence on him. These two truly complement each other, something that I didn’t predict happening when I began reading the series. Adrian himself has come a long way character-wise. Don’t worry—he’s still Adrian and still spouting clever Adrian-isms, but he’s also matured a lot. He tells Sydney that he’s learned from the mistakes he made trying to win Rose’s heart, and he’s not going to repeat them with Sydney. Knowing how conflicted her emotions are, he gives her space, but he’s ready to jump to her side at a moment’s notice to protect her. Just when I thought Adrian couldn’t possibly melt my heart any further . . . .

In the days leading up to the release of The Indigo Spell, the name Marcus Finch seemed to be everywhere. I expected this former Alchemist to play a major role in the book, but in the end, I found his importance overhyped. I also found him rather overconfident and of the mindset that he can smile his way through any situation. I didn’t fall for his charm, and fortunately, neither does Sydney. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Mr. Finch, so it’s likely he’ll have additional chances to impress me more than he did here.

Although I really enjoyed The Indigo Spell, I felt that it didn’t quite measure up to either Bloodlines or The Golden Lily. There was a rather detailed recap of how Sydney, Jill, and Eddie wound up in Palm Springs; three books into the series, I think I have a pretty good handle on that backstory. The resolution of Sydney’s two missions in this book, digging up dirt on the Alchemists and tracking down the power-robbing witch, seemed a little anticlimactic to me, too. Maybe that’s because I’ve grown accustomed to Richelle Mead’s bombshell endings. She still leaves you plenty to think about in the conclusion of The Indigo Spell, though, while you await the release of the fourth book, The Fiery Heart, later this year.

All in All:

I’ve become as invested in this series as I was in its parent, Vampire Academy. Though I loved the first two Bloodlines books a smidge more than this one, The Indigo Spell was still a very fun read. I would join Alpha Yam Ergo in a heartbeat!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Know Me Better (7)

Know Me Better is a weekly meme hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Ally: Ireland. I want to go back to my roots.
Lee: New York City. I really miss living there.

Favorite Literary Characters?
Ally: Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs, Ronan Lynch, Valek, Adrian Ivashkov, Sirius Black, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark.
Lee: Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Anne Elliot, Frederick Wentworth, John Thornton, Will Herondale, Jem Carstairs.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Ally: J. K. Rowling. I'd love to hear some of her ideas.
Lee: Jane Austen. I just think she was a genius.

Things that bring a smile to your face?
Ally: My puppy, Tyler.
Lee: Ally and her siblings, Melissa and Denis, are the funniest people I know. When I'm feeling down, they always know the right thing to say to cheer me up.

Do you have a favorite saying?
Ally: I say, "Stop giggling, Cosette" to my brother Denis all the time. It's in reference to Les Miz.
Lee: I'm a big fan of Game of Thrones, both the book and the TV show, and I use "You know nothing Jon Snow" frequently in conversation.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: A Letter to My Younger Blogging Self

Dear Younger Blogging Self,

It's really hard to believe that it's been almost a year since Ally and you set out together on this little adventure. You know what they say about hindsight being 20/20, so Future You is here to offer some observations and maybe even some helpful advice.

You knew going into this that blogging was going to be a lot of work, but perhaps you underestimated just how much. It's not as simple as reading a book and writing about what you thought of it. Those reviews need to be formatted, images need to be uploaded, links need to be shared. That's something you really were not prepared for—the social networking component of book blogging. You had no clue what Twitter was all about a year ago. It was definitely something you should have researched during the planning stages of the blog instead of learning on the fly a few months after the blog went live. Your Facebook page and Pinterest still need major work, too, so those are two items on your to-do list that you need to take care of this year.

The most important thing you need to remember is that blogging is supposed to be fun. You're doing this because you love books and chatting with other readers. Stressing out because you didn't participate in a meme for a few weeks isn't fun. Worry about page views isn't fun. When something turns into a daily grind, you need to step back and think about why you got into this in the first place. Allowing blogging to become a chore will lead to burnout, and you came very close to it last year. In your heart, you don't want that to happen because thanks to blogging, you're more in love with reading than ever, and you've rediscovered your love of writing. So, continue to hold to the resolution you made at the beginning of 2013: blog because you enjoy it, and because you love books.


Your Future Blogging Self
(Who hopes she's a tiny bit wiser now)

2013 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Book Spine Poetry

We loved the idea of this challenge, which was to create a poem only using book titles! It was a lot of fun, but it was also quite difficult. We couldn't really think of any rhyming titles, so we went with more of a free verse approach here:

Under the never sky,
The name of the star,
The dark unwinding,
Unearthly beautiful creatures torment.
Something strange and deadly,
Spirit bound, boundless, entwined,
Unspoken, the unidentified unwind.
Before I fall everneath,
Embrace the immortal rules.

2013 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon: Interview Swap with The Quiet Concert

We're thrilled to be a part of the 2013 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon, hosted by Alexa Loves Books and Kate's Tales of Books and Bands! As part of this 24-hour event, we're excited to chat with Ashley and Nicole, the bloggers behind The Quiet Concert. Be sure to check out and follow their blog, as well as follow them on Twitter!

Welcome to Rally the Readers, Ashley and Nicole! We appreciate you both taking the time to chat with us today!

We love the name of your blog! How did you come up with it?

Thank you! We really wish we had a cool story to tell here about something that inspired us but in reality we just threw potential titles and word combinations back and forth until we came up with something we both liked. We liked the title because it sounded pretty and full of meaning in a way only oxymoronic random titles can!

Like us, you’re a team blog. Are there any particular blogging challenges you’ve come across as a result of that?

Hah . . . yes. Team blogging takes a lot of communication, something we haven’t quite mastered yet. We recently created a review/meme/other post schedule to tell us who is supposed to do what and when, which has definitely made things run a little smoother (no more last minute meme participations, or posting book reviews 30 minutes apart!). But we are still trying to figure out the whole twitter and email thing so that we aren’t both responding to something (or assuming the other is). And lately we’ve been wanting to read a lot of the same books so we’ve been trying to figure out how to do so while keeping a steady review flow!

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Nicole: I love Melina Marchetta, Kristin Cashore and Richelle Mead!
Ashley: I am a big fan of Maggie Stiefvater and Cassandra Clare!

Disaster scenario: you're both on a sinking ship where the other passengers are all literary characters. The lifeboat only holds 6 people. Which 4 characters do you take with you and why?

1. Katsa from Graceling! Her survival grace can keep us alive!
2. Christian from Unearthly. If Katsa can’t save us, Christian can fly us home!
3. Will Herondale from Infernal Devices! He’ll keep the mood up with his humor and he’s a pretty face to look at!
4. Evie from The Diviners! We just want to meet her.

A few random questions:

Favorite TV show?

We both watch a LOT of TV.
Ashley: I’m loving Homeland at the moment.
Nicole: REVENGE!

Which book character would you dress up as for Halloween?

Ashley: Tessa from The Infernal Devices!
Nicole: Me too!!

Favorite spot to read?

Nicole: I probably read the most in my bed, but I love reading on the couch in front of the fire with my cat on my lap!
Ashley: Not an everyday spot, but I love to read at the beach!

Thank you both again for your time! It was great getting to know you better!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan
The Brides of Rollrock Island
By Margo Lanagan
Knopf Books for Young Readers

To Sum It Up:

On Rollrock Island, everyone knows that Misskaella Prout is a sea witch. She possesses magic that allows her to shape the being inside of a seal skin into a woman of astonishing beauty. The men of the island will pay any price for Misskaella to call forth a bride from the water for them. The wives’ hearts, however, will always belong to the sea—something that Misskaella has been counting on all along.


I’ll say this right from the start: I had one of the strangest reading experiences ever with The Brides of Rollrock Island. I can’t even summarize the book adequately. There’s a woman who can weave a very special sort of magic that transforms seals into beautiful human women for any man who fancies a “sea-wife” and is willing to pay. Yes, this novel is a take on selkie lore, but it’s so much more than that. It’s also about love, loss, and revenge. And I had no idea what was going on for almost one third of the book!

I’m really bad at discussing this sort of novel, the type that spends a lot of time building up the atmosphere and in which nothing significant seems to be happening, yet things are happening. I don’t know how else to describe it. The only other book I’ve read that compares in style to The Brides of Rollrock Island is Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races, which I had a hard time connecting with despite its elegant prose. I experienced déjà vu at the beginning of The Brides of Rollrock Island. There was this small island community and talk of a sea witch, and that was about all I was able to glean for a while. Margo Lanagan’s prose is unlike anything I’ve read before; it’s rich, dense, and poetic. Struggling with the rhythm of the writing made me feel pretty dense.

The narrative is seen through the eyes of several of the islanders, and where the book made its dramatic turnaround for me was in the chapters dedicated to Misskaella, the sea witch herself. Her story begins with her childhood, and it’s a miserable one. A peculiar kind of magic runs in the family, and it soon becomes apparent that Misskaella has inherited it in abundance. She becomes the topic of gossip and object of scorn all over the island for her uncanny connection with seals. I mean, these people are cruel to her, including her own family. The only person who looks upon her with anything resembling kindness is her father. Her own mother and sisters are just as vicious as the islanders are. So, when an older Misskaella starts using her magic to create selkie brides for any man who’ll pay for one, you see just how ingenious Misskaella is. At last, she’s going to have her revenge on these people who did nothing but sneer at her. And oh boy, does she ever get her revenge. When I realized what she was up to, I was absolutely stunned, and I couldn’t put the book down from this point on.

What follows is the aftermath of Misskaella’s sea wife trading business. You read the stories of several other residents, including Bet Winch, whose brother has left his wife and family for a selkie; Dominic Mallett, who returns to Rollrock to sell his father’s house only to end up leaving his human fiancée for a seal bride; and Daniel Mallett, Dominic’s son, who watches his mother grow weaker and weaker from being separated from her beloved sea. The heartbreak just ripples through the book, and it’s devastating. Lanagan really makes you consider what’s happened here. Does Misskaella take her vengeance too far, or did the islanders bring it on themselves with their derisive words and behavior? Looking back on the entire story, that’s not an easy question for me to answer. And I like that; I like books that don’t offer simple solutions.

After seriously thinking about giving up on this book even after reading nearly 100 pages, I ended up really enjoying it. I became engrossed in Misskaella’s story and the impact that the way she was treated in her youth affected the entire island. Although revenge is a central theme here, there’s also a glint of hope at the end. The Brides of Rollrock Island was not one of the most accessible YA books I’ve read, but being patient with it truly paid off. Margo Lanagan is a brilliant writer, and this is one expertly crafted novel.

All in All:

I’m not sure that this is everyone’s cup of tea, especially writing style-wise. I found it quite challenging to read, but well worth the effort. I think the best advice I can offer here is to just sit back and watch the story unfold. In the beginning, I kept thinking, “Where is this going?” instead of letting the narrative reveal itself in its own time. Had I done that from the start, I might have gotten into the story sooner.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Daughter of the Earth and Sky by Kaitlin Bevis

* Spoiler warning for the previous book, Persephone. *

Daughter of the Earth and Sky by Kaitlin Bevis Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus #2)
By Kaitlin Bevis
Musa Publishing

* A copy was provided by the author for review.

To Sum It Up:

Persephone knows that she can never go back to the way things were, not after finding out that she’s an immortal goddess and becoming Queen of the Underworld. Although Persephone herself eliminated the threat posed by the Winter God, Boreas, she isn’t out of danger yet. Zeus is still after her, and he’s in league with none other than Thanatos, someone whom Persephone once thought she could trust. Even worse, Thanatos has tricked her into keeping silent about his involvement in Zeus’s plans. She is unable to even tell Hades, her husband, about what Thanatos is up to. With Zeus's hidden agenda and Thanatos as her newly acquired enemy, Persephone's world is falling apart. Somehow, she must find a way to stop both of them before it’s too late.

Lee's Review:

Having loved Kaitlin Bevis’s Persephone, I was extremely excited to read the sequel, Daughter of the Earth and Sky. While I found myself a little frustrated at times with Persephone’s actions in this one, they were integral to showing her growing pains as both a teenager on the verge of adulthood and as a goddess. Overall, Daughter of the Earth and Sky is a solid second book that maintains the first book’s momentum and explores in greater depth some of the issues, like the age difference between Persephone and Hades, that were touched upon in the previous novel.

Although in the first book, Persephone seemed to be adjusting as well as she could to her new role as Queen of the Underworld, her return to life on the surface in Daughter of the Earth and Sky is a lot rockier. She’s pretty angry with her mother, Demeter, for withholding so much information from her for most of her life. Their relationship is rather strained in this book, as is Persephone’s relationship with her best friend and priestess, Melissa. Melissa is looking for a bit of independence from a life she didn’t choose but was born into, and she wants to attend college in another state. Also driving a wedge between the girls is Aphrodite, created by Zeus and possessing a dangerous amount of charm. No one knows exactly why Zeus sent her, but under the assumption that it was for some no-good purpose, Hades and Persephone are keeping a close eye on her. As Aphrodite worms her way more and more into Persephone’s life, Melissa gets pushed aside. I wasn’t too enthused with Persephone’s initial handling of both the situation with her mother and with her best friend. I thought she was acting a bit bratty, but I cut her some slack for having so much thrown on her shoulders all at once. She’s finding out that juggling life between two worlds isn’t easy, and her struggle for balance takes center stage in this book. I actually liked that the story took this turn because it gave Persephone’s character development a sense of realism. The story would have been boring if she simply sailed through life now that she knew she was a goddess.

Hades and Persephone’s relationship isn’t spared from some drama, either. Demeter does not approve of it, and Hades himself is wary of them developing serious feelings for each other because of their rather big age difference. Making things even more awkward is the fact that Persephone can’t tell Hades that his underling, Thanatos, is working for Zeus because Thanatos tricked her into staying mum. At one point, Persephone gets angry with Hades for not being able to guess what’s going on. This annoyed me some because I thought her anger was misplaced. Granted, Thanatos was very cunning with how he secured her silence, and I was quite surprised to find out that he was a bad guy at the end of Persephone. But Hades is already doing everything he can to protect Persephone, and it’s like she’s forgotten that. All right, so I’m pretty blind to Hades’s faults because I’ve loved him since the first book, and yeah, maybe he should have caught a whiff of something suspicious going on with Thanatos. Yet I still felt that Persephone was demonstrating the very immaturity that made Hades hesitant to return her affection. As I said before, I wasn’t always happy with Persephone’s actions, but they also illustrated that even goddesses aren’t perfect. I would have been more disappointed if she got everything she wanted, including a happily-ever-after marriage, without having to work for it.

Of the new characters, Poseidon was my favorite. The tension between him and Hades intrigued me greatly. I was not so thrilled with Aphrodite. Even knowing that Zeus was responsible for her grating personality, I still wasn’t keen on her addition. There’s a chance that she may surprise me in the next book, though, considering the twist ending to this book. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind reading more about Poseidon in the next book, too.

Daughter of the Earth and Sky concludes with one shocker of an ending. I thought I had things fairly figured out, but I figured incorrectly. Big time. I congratulate Kaitlin Bevis on completely fooling me with such clever plotting. I await the third book, The Iron Queen, with great anticipation.

All in All:

This is just a fantastic mythology retelling series. The Greek mythology is weaved into the story so seamlessly. I continue to be impressed with Kaitlin Bevis’s writing; Persephone may be a goddess, but Bevis gives her enough flaws to keep her grounded and relatable.

Ally's Review:

I immediately fell in love with the first installment in the Daughters of Zeus series, and I couldn't imagine what else to expect. I knew that I was going to love any mythology Kaitlin Bevis threw at me; I just didn't know to what extent. I usually don't anticipate much from sequels, shamefully favoring only the first and last in a series, but I was pleasantly surprised by Daughter of the Earth and Sky. I think I might even like it more than the first book.

The plotline in this book definitely takes a darker turn. There is more conflict with Persephone and her coming into her goddess-ness. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of action centering around Zeus, Thanatos, and all the other bad guys, but the book focuses on Persephone realizing who she is and what is expected from her more than anything else. Some of these revelations are sad, especially concerning Persephone's friends and family, but necessary. Persephone grows up a lot this time around, and that's a good thing.

Several new characters are introduced in this book. Poseidon makes an appearance, which I thought was beyond awesome! I wanted to meet some other gods and goddesses, and I got what I wanted! Poseidon reminded me of Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games with his surfer boy looks and his sea-colored eyes. I was most definitely crushing on him until Bevis rained on my parade, giving readers a glimpse of his bad side. Aphrodite is another Olympian introduced. Personally, I did not like her, but that could be credited to my jealous, skeptical, teenage trust issues. Then you have the mortal boy, Joel, who was unabashedly pining after Persephone even after she told him she was taken! I did not like Joel either, and I spent a good portion of the book wishing that he would go jog off a cliff or have a run-in with Hades.

The strain in Hades and Persephone's relationship was ever present. I had a front row seat to all of the angst and drama; it was killing me, but I couldn't look away! I had to watch Persephone's promise to keep the evil Thanatos's secret destroy everything! If, by some stroke of luck, I was Persephone and got myself into that situation, I would sit my butt down and meditate until I found a way to tell Hades the truth. Then I would kick Zeus and Thanatos's godly arses down into the deepest pits of Tartarus. It's not Persephone's fault, though. Thanatos was so cool and trustworthy in the beginning. He was even one of my favorite characters. No one could have expected him to turn evil. I feel so betrayed!

The only thing that I marginally disliked about the book was that it made me terribly homesick. I missed the Underworld, Charon, and everybody down there! They are barely in the book. I became so attached to them, and then I didn't get to see them. Every time Persephone said that she was visiting the Underworld, I would jump with glee only to be disappointed because she left almost as soon as she got down there.

Aside from my little bout of homesickness, Daughter of the Earth and Sky was fantastic. It keeps you on your toes and has you guessing until the very end. At one point, towards the end of the book, I thought I had it all figured out. Arrogantly, I told Lee about my Cassandra-like premonitions. She nodded her head, having already finished the book. When I finished the last twenty odd pages, I was rudely awakened. I had been wrong; completely, utterly wrong. I was misled into a passive lull. The worst part is that I had reveled in my seemingly glorious guesswork, and Lee had let me! It was all just too clever for me; now I feel the need to redeem myself. This book was just that good.

All in All:

Daughter of the Earth and Sky is the best young adult, mythological book I have ever read. The reader becomes so completely invested in the characters and the story that everything just feels real. Man, I wish it were real.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Persistence of Vision Blog Tour: Review & Character Interview

Welcome to our stop on the blog tour for Persistence of Vision by Liesel K. Hill! As well as our reviews, we have an interview with one of its characters, the enigmatic Doc, for you today.

Persistence of Vision by Liesel K. Hill
Persistence of Vision (Interchron #1)
By Liesel K. Hill
Tate Publishing Amazon | Goodreads

* A copy was provided by the author for review.


In a world where collective hives are enslaving the population and individuals have been hunted to the verge of extinction, Maggie Harper, and independent 21st Century woman, must find the strength to preserve the freedom of the future, but without the aid of her memories.

After experiencing a traumatic time loss, Maggie is plagued by a barrage of images she can't explain. When she's attacked by a creep with a spider's web tattoo, she is saved by Marcus, a man she's never met, but somehow remembers. He tells her that both he and her creepy attacker are from a future in which individuals are being murdered by collectives, and Marcus is part of the rebellion. The collectives have acquired time travel and they plan to enslave the human race throughout all of history. The flashes Maggie has been seeing are echoes of lost memories, and the information buried deep within them is instrumental in defeating the collective hives.

In order to preserve the individuality of mankind, Maggie must try to re-discover stolen memories, re-kindle friendships she has no recollection of, and wade through her feelings for the mysterious Marcus, all while dodging the tattooed assassins the collectives keep sending her way.

If Maggie can't fill the holes in her memory and find the answers to stop the collectives, the world both in her time and in all ages past and future will be doomed to enslavement in the grey, mediocre collectives. As the danger swirls around her and the collectives close in, Maggie realizes she must make a choice: stand out or fade away . . .

Ally's Review:

Dystopians have become remarkably popular ever since the The Hunger Games. They usually maintain the same guidelines: a broken society, often as a result of plague or war, and a group of righteous characters devoted to mending the tattered world. Therefore, my taste for regular dystopians has sadly been waning. I just don't like the conformity that is now following this genre. Reading Persistence of Vision has been utterly refreshing. It's different. Not in the one or two new unique things different, but in an entirely new twist different. There's time-traveling and other various supernatural abilities. It's like X-Men meets dystopian, meets sci-fi! Everything mixed well together and contributed to the enjoyability of the story.

Persistence of Vision is one of the most mysterious books I have ever read. As the reader, you are left with gaps in the information. This wasn't a bad thing; actually, it was rather intriguing. I like figuring things out; I'd like to fancy myself the Sherlock Holmes of the book world, so it was really fun piecing together the pieces of the puzzle. The main character, Maggie, had missing memories, resulting in the mystery bit of the book. This was all very clever.

Maggie was a great heroine. She was fearless without being unrealistic. She took what she learned in stride and did the best with what she had. This was admirable, especially since everything about this world was complicated. I feel like I need to go into more detail about the story line. So, in the future, society has crumbled, hence the dystopian genre, and everyone is pretty much mindless and telepathically chained to each other. This is called the collective. Now, the intentions were good. The collective made the world an easier place to understand, but then the baddies became power hungry and went on a world domination rampage. The rebels, or the individualists who are not linked to the collective, do what they do best—rebel. Maggie is obviously in the middle of all of this, being the prophecy's "executioner" of the collective. The whole plot line can be quite confusing, and I think that's where Maggie's memory loss came in handy. The reader doesn't have to shield himself or herself from an information overload. The world was explained slowly as Maggie relearned everything.

The other characters were very likable. Marcus was Maggie's love interest. They had romantic history, but after Maggie lost her memory, things obviously changed to a more awkward note. He was sweet and patient through all of this. I did, however, like David better. I am not ashamed to say that I gleefully ship David and Maggie, rather than Marcus and Maggie. My favorite character was Karl. I usually become annoyed with secondary characters, especially if they are purposely placed as comic relief. That wasn't the case with Karl; I found him hilarious. He has a sense of humor that I can relate to. Karl would enthusiastically crack a very funny joke and everyone else would just roll their eyes and tell him to shush. That happens to me all the time! I feel you, Karl!

The world building was well thought out and, for the most part, neatly and evenly covered. One of the two things that bugged me was Jonah, Maggie's brother. Jonah was introduced into the book, seemingly important, and was dropped off within the first thirty pages. The guy seemed significant enough. He was there when Maggie disappeared into the future, but nothing that happens to him is ever elaborated on. Jonah must know something; he was right there! The other little thing that bothered me was the lack of interaction with the true antagonist. I wanted to know more about this bad guy and I barely got anything. The team didn't really get into the thick of the action until the end of the book, and all of that seemed to happen in a blur.

The ending killed me. I would love to say that Ally Holmes foresaw everything that went down, but I can't. Persistence of Vision is a complicated book. It's impossible to unravel all the secrets in one go, though I did have fun trying. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can't imagine what's in store for the sequel.

All in All:

Persistence of Vision is a complicated and mysterious read, but that's what makes it so good. It has a little bit of everything—dystopian, sci-fi, romance, you name it! I think anyone can find something to like about this book.

Lee's Review:

At this point in my reading life, I feel like I’ve read enough dystopian novels to realize that I have a love/hate relationship with them. When I can immerse myself in the world and think, hey, this could really happen, we’re OK. When the world lacks enough details of how it came into existence or worse, is just nonsensical, well, we have a problem. Knowing our rocky history together, I now try to be extra selective about the dystopians I choose to read. I’m still bound to make mistakes, but happily, Persistence of Vision was not one of them.

This book revolves around the idea that in the future, the human brain will be mapped, its inner workings unlocked like never before. Tapping into the power of previously unused areas of the brain has made abilities like healing and telekinesis possible. As with all discoveries, however, there are some who would exploit this knowledge for nefarious purposes, and that is the scenario Persistence of Vision poses. The majority of the population lives in collectives, linked together through the mind. A group of individuals, of which the protagonist, Maggie, is a part, fights to free those in the collectives. I loved this concept and the crystal clear manner in which the formation of the collectives was explained. Liesel K. Hill’s world building is top-notch here. I never felt overwhelmed by scientific facts and jargon; the details were presented in a logical, eloquent flow that made this world easy both to understand and to find plausible.

Although most of the story focuses on Maggie, I thought that the book had an ensemble feel to it as well because of how fleshed out the supporting characters are. It’s quite fitting because working as a team is so vital to Maggie and her companions in order to bring down the collectives. I liked reading the team members’ back stories about how they ended up at Interchron, their mountain base of operations. As for the characters themselves, Maggie is a strong, resilient heroine who doesn’t allow her memory loss to become a cause for self-pity. She has to relearn everything she’s forgotten since leaving Interchron and being returned to her own time and willingly does so because the mission is so important. I loved Karl, one of Maggie’s best friends on the team, for his vibrant personality and sense of humor. I have to say, Karl has one of the coolest abilities among the team: time travel. I also liked how Marcus, the healer of the group, gave Maggie plenty of space upon her return to Interchron. The two were once close, but Maggie recalls nothing. It’s obvious that Marcus wishes she could, but he never presses her about their past together, which I found very sweet.

In a genre that sometimes gets bogged down in overcomplicated scientific explanations and disaster scenarios that stretch credulity, Persistence of Vision always maintains its focus on the story. And it’s a story that I found extremely fascinating—the battle to retain individuality and free will in a world mostly fallen to collectivism. This is an excellent sci-fi/dystopian novel with one of the most thought-provoking premises I’ve read about in a dystopian. Liesel Hill’s writing and storytelling are both stellar, and I eagerly await the next installment of this series.

All in All:

If all sci-fi/dystopians were written in such an accessible way, I’d definitely read more of them. I highly recommend this to anyone who’s shied away from the genre before.

** Our Interview with Doc **

Welcome to Rally the Readers, Doc! We thank you for answering a few questions for us today.

Not a problem! I’m happy to be here.

We’re quite curious to learn more about your background. Can you tell us a little about what your life was like growing up?

I’m not someone who likes to talk about my past much. I can tell you that I grew up with two brothers, and that my life has seen a lot of tragedy and turmoil, most of it brought on either directly or indirectly by the collectives.

How did you earn your nickname? Do you find it a bit ironic that your role in the prophecy is that of Witness instead of Healer?

My nickname comes from my profession, which is a medical doctor. I understand why many people think my role is ironic, but I’ve never found it so. I became a medical doctor before I had full grasp of my neurochemical abilities. I’ve never shown as neurochemical talent with Healing, so the situation has always felt quite natural to me.

You seem to keep quite a bit of information to yourself, sharing it with the other team members only when you think it’s necessary. Is this important to your role as Witness, are you just naturally secretive, or a combination of both?

A bit of both, I’m afraid. There are some things I worry about sharing with the team, because I don’t want things I know, things I’ve been through to affect them in a negative way. Again, some of the things I’ve seen and experienced in my past are quite tragic and personal, so I have a hard time sharing them anyway.

Both the mysterious B and the Remembrancer seem to know you. Are you able to elaborate on why that is?

I’d rather not in detail. Both entail painful memories from my past. I will say that, if the Remembrancer is who I think she is, who she’s claiming to be, I was once very close to both her and B. They were big parts of my life before, well, life happened. Now, in B’s case, we find ourselves on opposite sides of a raging war. As for the Remembrancer, I’m not sure what to make of her yet. I hope to run into her again and be given the chance to find out more.

If you ever had the misfortune to find yourself in a collective, how easy/difficult would it be for you to break away?

That I can’t answer with any certainty. As we now know from David’s experience, it is possible, but it’s also very difficult. Even if accomplished, it brings a great deal of physical pain. Even though I’m a strong-minded individual, and might have the will power as David did, I’m also an old man. I worry that such a thing would put my body into a state of shock I might not recover from.

What do you value most about being an individual?

Freedom. The freedom to think for oneself, work for one’s own bread, exercise and enrich one’s own mind. The individual mind is an amazing thing, capable of much more than the average person realizes. But we can only explore the limits of our own consciousness if we think and create for ourselves.

And now for a few random questions:

Least favorite part about being the Witness?

Having a duty to witness everything, even the negative things.

Greatest fear?

That’s entirely too complex a question to only contain two words! I suppose it’s failing in this war, though in a way success is also one of my greatest fears.

If you were a Traveler, where would you want to go?

To a simpler time, with less technology and good, simple people.

If you weren’t the Witness, what role from the prophecy would you want to fulfill?

What an interesting question! Probably Joan’s role: that of Protector. I feel like each member of the team was my own flesh and blood. I wish I had a better way to protect them from all the tragedies of war.

Thank you again for taking time out of your busy day to chat with us, Doc. We really appreciate it!

Thank you so much for having me!

Author Liesel K. Hill

Find Liesel K. Hill:

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Know Me Better (6)

Know Me Better is a weekly meme hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

Pieces of advice you have for aspiring writers?
Ally: A very wise person once said to me that you have to write something you want to read. I think that's the best advice out there; thanks, Lee!
Lee: Never give up. Ever. When I was in school, I thought I'd pursue some kind of writing career when I got older. I thought that I'd major in journalism or English when I went to college, but some bad experiences in freshman writing class really discouraged me. We had to critique each other's work all semester, and I seemed to always end up with partners who thought they were better writers than Shakespeare. I'll never forget the one guy who grinned evilly at me while rubbing his hands together in a "hahaha, I can't wait to see her face" kind of way before handing me my paper back. A more confident person would have just taken all of it in stride, but I've never been that type of person. One of my biggest regrets in life was giving up so easily on my dream of a writing career back then. So, if writing is what makes you happy, don't let anyone ever discourage you from it.

Favorite TV show when you were younger?
Ally: Avatar the Last Airbender.
Lee: Voltron, the cartoon series about the robot that was made up of five lions.

What would we find if we looked under your bed?
Ally: Narnia, board games, and old school books.
Lee: Um, I'm thinking dust bunnies because there's no storage room under there.

Book Store or Library?
Ally: As much as I love the library, there's just something about going into a bookstore. I think I like that everything's really new.
Lee: 50/50. If I'm not sure how I'm going to like a book, I'll borrow it from the library first.

Heads or Tails?
Ally: Tails. I'm not a conformist.
Lee: Tails.

Stacking the Shelves (28)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the new books that we've acquired.

The previous weekend, Lee and I were lucky enough to find ourselves in a Barnes & Noble. We haven't been to a legit bookstore in several years, relying on Amazon and the local library for our book addiction instead. We were obviously mesmerized as soon as we walked in. My grandmother, seeing me walk around with Les Misérables clutched to my chest, graciously offered to buy it for me. I accepted the offer and now have over 800 pages of Enjolras to indulge myself in; lucky me!

Ally's Books:


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Lee's Books:


The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead


Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Thanks to Fierce Reads/Macmillan!

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link us up!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday (22)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and
Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet other book bloggers!

This week's question is:
Write a letter to your favorite character. Rant, rave or gush . . . just pretend like they are real and you just want to let them know a "few things." - Activity courtesy of author, Kelly Walker

We're both huge, huge fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and thought it would be fun to write to two of our favorite characters from the books, Brienne of Tarth and Ser Jaime Lannister. We ship those two like mad and figured that maybe some persuasion in letter form would work in getting them together.

Ally's Letter:

Dear Ser Jaime Lannister, AKA Kingslayer,

Before I start this mission, I would like to let you know, Jaime (I can call you Jaime, right?), that my love for you is undying and absolute. I have overlooked your flaws (pushing Bran out the window, Cersei, kingslaying, etc.) and want you to know that I am always here for you.

Now my main purpose in writing to you is supposedly to get you to open your damn beautiful eyes and see Brienne and how perfect you two are for each other!! So get yourself together and make your move! She's one of a kind, way better than Cersei (though I'm not saying anything about me ;D), a completely bad-arse knight, honorable, and is just plain and simple perfect for you. Man, I know she loves you, too. As a matter of fact, Lee is talking to her right now about you! I know you love her, too! I mean, you went back for her. Would you just pull yourself together and tell her how you feel? We know how she is, and she's not going to make the first move. Hey, maybe you two lovebirds can adopt Pod! Well anyway, I think I've made my case.



Lee's Letter:

Dear Brienne,

First, I'd like to tell you that you're one of my favorite kick-ass heroines. I admire you for pursuing your dream of being a knight in a society that looks down on women picking up a sword. Continue showing those narrow-minded twits in Westeros how ridiculous their thinking is.

Now for the real reason that I'm writing. You and Jaime Lannister need to realize that you belong together. I used to despise the guy to no end, but he's really turned his life around. He's found a sense of honor, something that I never pictured happening. Ever. And it's all because of you. Sure, you guys got off to a rocky start, what with that little sword fight and all, but he went back to Harrenhal for you and rescued you from that bear. If that doesn't scream true love, I don't know what does.

Please consider making my shipping dreams come true by giving the Kingslayer a chance. I truly hope to see this happen in the next book, whenever it's finally released. Thank you!



If you're a new follower, be sure to let us know so that we can follow you back. Thanks for stopping by!

Review: Boundless by Cynthia Hand

* This review may contain spoilers for the previous two books, Unearthly and Hallowed. *

Boundless by Cynthia Hand
Boundless (Unearthly #3)
By Cynthia Hand

To Sum It Up:

Clara is now a student at Stanford University, having left Wyoming—and Tucker—behind. Angela and Christian are also enrolled at Stanford, where they and Clara are adjusting to their new lives, just like their human classmates. Even at college, though, the three angel-bloods cannot forget what they are and the responsibilities that come with their otherworldly lineage. All signs, including Clara’s latest visions, seem to indicate an impending showdown with the Black Wings. When it happens, Clara only hopes that she’ll be prepared to fight to save not only those she cares about but possibly herself as well.


You know that feeling you get after reading the incredible finale of a beloved series? The "I Can’t Believe It’s Over!" sadness mixed with the "That Was Such an Amazing Read!" euphoria? That was how I felt once I’d finished Boundless, and I don’t believe I’ll be recovering any time soon.

This was everything the last book in a series should be, at least in my opinion. Boundless held me transfixed and wondering until the very last few pages how everything was going to end. I’m serious: I kept an extremely nervous eye on how many pages remained as the story reached a point that threatened to leave a permanent indentation on the side of my face from pressing my palm so tightly against it. As much of a roller coaster ride as reading this was, I appreciated how the book’s intensity served a purpose and was relevant to everything that had happened in the previous two books. It wasn’t amplified just for the sake of sending off the final book with a bang. I had some unanswered questions heading into Boundless, especially about Samjeeza, the Black Wing (i. e. not-so-nice angel) who’s always seemed a tad obsessed with Clara’s mother. Let me say that I am in awe of how Cynthia Hand tied together all of the threads of the story that she'd been building since Unearthly.

I also give Hand a hearty round of applause for writing such a great protagonist like Clara, to whom I took a liking from the very beginning. She’s grown so much over the course of the series and faces some of her toughest challenges yet in Boundless. She’s caught between the two facets of her life: the part that wishes she could enjoy life like any normal human girl her age would, and the angelic part that entails some heavy responsibilities. Clara the College Student considers enrolling in Stanford’s premed program while Clara the Angel takes lessons in wielding a glory sword. In addition, she worries about what’s become of her younger brother, Jeffrey, since he took off, what’s going on with her suspiciously secretive friend, Angela, what her recent and unnerving visions mean, and let’s not forget about the Is Christian My God Appointed Soulmate question. Oh, and she feels horribly guilty about letting Tucker go and breaking his heart, but with the Black Wings looking to add her to their ranks, she couldn’t bear to expose Tucker to the danger looming over her. Whew. That’s a lot for even a powerful angel-blood to handle, and Clara has to deal with all of it without being able to turn to the person who always comforted her, her mother. Through all of the turmoil, though, Clara manages to avoid becoming a self-pitying whiner. Her choices aren’t always the wisest, and she made plenty here that made me want to yell at her. I could never stay angry with her, however, because she’d already admitted that she’d made a gigantic mistake. And that is why I love her as a heroine.

I’ve never cared for Angela. She’s supposed to be Clara’s friend, but her jealousy of Clara, bossiness, and smug, know-it-all attitude always struck me as unappealing qualities to have in a friend. But even I felt sorry for Angela this time. She gets in so far over head that no matter what you thought of her before, you want to see her pull through. I’ve also never been a big fan of Clara’s brother, Jeffrey, yet he, too, earned my sympathy. You discover how much failing to fulfill his purpose has affected him, and it’s quite sad. When I realized the depth of his despair, I felt bad about viewing him as a snotty punk before. Thanks to what turns out to be some excellent foreshadowing in the previous novels, neither Angela nor Jeffrey’s plight seems tacked on for dramatic effect; they are integral parts of the bigger picture. (For more insight into Angela’s story line, you might want to check out Radiant, a novella that takes place during her summer trip to Italy with Clara before they head off to Stanford.)

A telltale sign that you love a series to infinitesimal pieces is when you’re even okay with the guy whom you don’t want to see end up with the girl. That’s how it is with Christian. In Boundless, Hand makes her strongest case yet for how very, very good he would be for Clara. And Christian truly is a good guy, one who has his fair share of trials here. In any other book, he would have owned my heart, but see, I also have a soft spot in my heart for the underdog. Tucker doesn’t possess a single drop of angel blood, but I love him for just being Tucker: snarky, yet also honest, kind, and selfless. I hate YA love triangles, but this is one of the handful that I find tolerable because for a change, it’s not all about the female protagonist’s heartbreak. You get to see the emotional toll that it takes on the two males as well.

What also sets this triangle apart is its divine component. In the first book, Clara and Christian saw each other in their visions of their original purposes. This appeared to be a heavenly message that they were destined to be together. Although fate continues to be a motif in Boundless, I think this book focuses on choice more than either of the previous novels did. The idea of Clara choosing between Christian, the poster boy for destiny, and Tucker, the boy she chose to love, sounds like some sort of paradox to me. I’m fairly sure that this is one of the most philosophical love triangles I’ve ever read about!

Ultimately, Boundless was a thrilling, emotional, and very satisfying conclusion to the series. By “emotional,” I mean I may have cried a bit. By “a bit,” I mean I had to make a mad grab for the tissue box before tears rained all over the pages. In a book filled with memorable moments, what I’ll always think of is how Cynthia Hand ingeniously incorporated my favorite scene from Hallowed, which is also one of my favorite scenes from the entire series, into Boundless. That alone warranted a five star rating. I’m a sap for story arcs that come full circle, and this one was simply brilliant.

All in All:

Um, judging by the length of this review, I believe I’ve blathered on quite enough about this book. Just read the whole series if you haven’t yet, especially if other angel books haven’t worked out for you. This might be just the ticket.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Worst Sherlock Holmes on the Planet: Melissa's Unearthly Rant

* Spoiler warning for Unearthly and Hallowed by Cynthia Hand. *

Disclaimer Thingy:

You guys have no idea how excited I was to get my own ranting feature. I love to complain! Just ask Ally or Lee―they are forced to hear me whine on a daily basis. To be honest, I don't know why they haven't murdered me yet. The event that inspired this feature happened over a way too short winter break. I happened to catch a few episodes of Doctor Who, and I was hooked. For days I cried and howled for the entire collection of Doctor Who. Lee got so fed up, she found out that the show was available through her Amazon Prime membership for me to watch. (Haha! Another excuse to bum around her house!) So, I guess I'm a whiny brat. But, it makes life funny, so I continue to wail about anything and everything.

Alas, Lee has threatened me with bodily harm if I give out spoilers in my reviews. And since ranting requires something to rant about, I have not been able to fully express my book angst. At last! I have found a loophole! Mwahahaha! Do keep in mind that I am a whiny brat and I am only trying to be funny, but I will probably come off as really annoying. So, forgive me in advance.

My Unearthly Rant:

Before I start my book-related rant, I would like to rant about rude people in Walmart. One very innocent Saturday morning, my mom dragged me to Walmart at gunpoint (not really, but close enough). I don't like Walmart, it smells funny. After four days of laborious grocery shopping, we were both ready to make our grand escape. Alas! Some morons were going in the EXIT door! The ENTRANCE DOOR WAS COMPLETELY EMPTY AND NOT EVEN FIVE FEET AWAY! First of all, it IS common courtesy to let people out before you try to go in. Second of all, THEY WERE USING THE WRONG DOOR. Both were clearly labeled, but the asshats apparently couldn't read! Now to the book rant. Oh, and PLEASE use the right door at Walmart.

Although I really enjoyed Unearthly and its sequel Hallowed, there are a few aspects that are quite rant worthy. Clara, the main character was annoying. SHE DIDN'T ASK ANY QUESTIONS, EVER, ABOUT ANYTHING! And then, she has the nerve to complain about being in the dark! Here is a list of problems that could have been prevented if Clara had stepped out of her pity party long enough to ask a handful of vital questions:

1. Clara has a brother. Who would have known?! She was so busy with her own drama to give a crap about anyone but herself. Tsk tsk. She wins the Worst Sister of the Year Award. There were plenty of situations that should have put Clara on red alert for her brother's welfare. She couldn't have taken ten minutes to sit her brother down and ask him what was wrong?! But, NOOOO! So, she went ahead and screwed up both of their purposes due to self-inflicted ignorance. To be fair, Clara's turd of a brother could have offered up some vital info. I mean he knew how much trouble Clara was having, and he could have eased her mind by simply telling her that he had his own purpose! Talk about a cry for attention; what a vengeful turd.

Well, now that I think of it, that's the only specific example I can think of with actual consequences. But, I'm still right. Things could have gone a lot smoother for everyone if Clara would have pushed her mother for answers. Honestly, I think if Clara had demanded answers, her mother would have fessed up. But, like son, like mother. Why didn't she say anything?! You know what, these people win the Worst Communication Skills Award!

Questions in books don't usually bother me, but when the answers are RIGHT THERE and the character chooses to be ignorant, I feel like clawing my eyes out in frustration.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Review: Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
Hallowed (Unearthly #2)
By Cynthia Hand

To Sum It Up:

After choosing to listen to her heart rather than pursue her destiny, Clara wonders what consequences her decision will bring. She also wonders how Christian is supposed to fit into her life, since fate seems to be telling both of them that he’s an inevitable part of it. As Clara worries about her future with Tucker, a new fear arises to give her even greater concern. Clara begins having troubling dreams filled with overwhelming sadness, and eventually the cause of her sorrow becomes startlingly clear: she’s going to lose someone she loves.


I continue to love the Unearthly series with all of my heart, though Hallowed just about shattered it. This book left me feeling a ton of different emotions all at once; no, this is not your run-of-the-mill middle book in which the story merely serves as a lead-in to the conclusion of the trilogy. Hallowed was every bit as engrossing as Unearthly was, and then some.

In Hallowed, Clara finds herself in quite the conundrum. Love triangles in YA books usually send me running in the opposite direction, but this one has such a different twist to it, and it’s so expertly written, that I don’t want to look away. What do you do when you love someone, but it seems that God has somebody else in mind for you? I mean, these aren’t your parents or your best friend telling you that you’re not with the right guy—it’s GOD. Clara even sarcastically notes that she never pictured herself as the girl caught between two guys, but that she is. And I love her for making that observation. I didn’t agree with all of the decisions that she made throughout the book, but I had to give her a lot of credit for acknowledging her mistakes. I respect heroines who take time out for a little self-reflection.

Although I am Team Tucker all the way, I can’t hate Christian. I can’t even dislike him. I felt like I got to know Christian much better in Hallowed, and he’s a decent guy. He’s in the same boat as Clara, with the whole God-Wants-Us-to-Be-Together thing, so he understands what she’s going through better than anyone. And therein lies the crux of this love triangle: how do you ignore a connection like that?

So poor, human Tucker really has the odds stacked against him this time around. There’s this sincerity to him that just makes me melt; I love how he always wants to know the truth, even if it’s going to hurt. I also love how he’ll do whatever he thinks is best for Clara, no matter what the expense is to his own heart.

I actually cried while reading Hallowed. Now, I may get a bit misty-eyed on occasion, but this time, tears were streaming down my face. And I rarely, rarely full-out cry while reading. One event in the book struck particularly close to home. I knew that it was going to happen for a while, but I didn’t think that I’d react so strongly. Cynthia Hand wrote these scenes with such moving beauty; there’s no doubt that rereading them would set off the waterworks again.

If you loved Unearthly as much as I did, and believe me, I loved Unearthly, you won’t be disappointed with Hallowed. Oh, you might be a jumble of emotions after reading it, like I was, but this is a must-read sequel. This series—simply amazing.

All in All:

I’ll reiterate what I said in my review of Unearthly: Best. Angel. Series. Ever.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Unearthly (Unearthly #1)
By Cynthia Hand

To Sum It Up:

As a quarter angel-blood, Clara Gardner has a purpose, the reason why she was put on Earth, to fulfill. She knows that the event is fast approaching because she is increasingly seeing visions of a boy standing in the middle of a raging forest fire. Once her visions give her a better idea of where she needs to be, Clara and her family uproot themselves to Wyoming. It’s there at her new school that Clara finds Christian Prescott, the boy from her visions. Clara’s purpose seems to be clear, but unforeseen circumstances may force her to make a difficult decision that could have serious consequences for her future.


Oh, how I adored Unearthly! Just when I was becoming paranoid that there was some divine message in the fact that angel book after angel book failed to click with me, Unearthly turned out to be the angel book that I’d been searching for. The lore, the characters, the setting, the writing, and the story were all simply wonderful. Warning: this is going to be a gushy, possibly incoherent review because I want to write about everything that I loved all at once. There will be liberal use of the word “love,” too.

The angel mythology in Unearthly strikes just the right note, taking the usual images associated with angels (wings, superhuman strength, an ethereal glow) and making them completely plausible. I thought the idea of all angels having a purpose was a nice twist on the concept of them as protectors. What really makes Cynthia Hand’s representation of angels stand out, though, is how they lead pretty normal lives considering that they’re otherworldly beings and all. Some of the previous angel books that I’ve read put so much emphasis on the characters’ angelic traits that I felt as though I never got to know the characters for themselves. Unearthly’s Clara is a very relatable protagonist who happens to be able to fly and occasionally glows.

I really liked Clara. She’s smart in the intelligent sense as well as smart in the smart-alecky sense. I loved her wry narration. Despite the advantages that her angel blood provides, such as a knack for sports and languages, she is refreshingly grounded. When Clara’s not worrying about fulfilling her purpose, she’s caught up in the regular teenage business, like fitting in at her new school and not making a fool of herself in front of Christian, the guy she’s supposed to save. You get a full picture of what life is like for Clara; she has this single, momentous mission looming ahead of her, but she’s still a teenager who wants to enjoy a normal teenage life. The fact that Clara is not a normal teenager but rather a superhuman being with a very great responsibility figures prominently throughout the novel.

I never imagined myself, a city girl through and through, falling for a cowboy like Tucker Avery, but it was impossible not to. He’s such a genuine, heart-on-his-sleeve type of guy; I could not help but swoon whenever his name appeared on the page. I loved his straightforward manner, that he said whatever was on his mind. Tucker also excels at sarcasm, which, enjoying snark as much as I do, I found absolutely charming. Dear Cynthia Hand: please do not let anything bad happen to Tucker. I have become too invested in his well-being to bear seeing any harm befall him.

I just loved (there’s that word yet again!) reading Unearthly. It’s a superbly crafted novel that brings angels to realistic life and makes me want to see the majestic beauty of Jackson Hole, Wyoming in person. It’s a novel that is in no hurry to cut to the romance; it builds subtly, making it that much sweeter. Most importantly, though, this is a novel that proved that I could love an angel book.

All in All:

Best. Angel. Book. Ever. A HUGE thanks to Miss J at Miss Book Reviews for recommending this!